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Christmas comes early: households were PAID to use energy this weekend

  • Energy customers using flexibly priced tariffs were paid to use energy overnight on Saturday and Sunday
  • Record levels of wind generation saw energy prices plummet to MINUS figures
  • National grid thanked energy consumers for using the extra wind energy, helping them to efficiently match supply and demand

In what experts are calling 'the future of energy' in action, consumers up and down the nation found themselves being paid to use electricity generated from renewable sources over the weekend. Homes with flexibly priced Octopus Energy tariffs enabled by smart meters saw negative pricing on the mornings of 8 and 9 December as Great Britain caught the tail-end of the storms.

Negative pricing sees consumers paid to use energy and relieve pressures on the network when there is a large amount of cheap, green energy on the system. On Saturday and Sunday morning consumers on Octopus Energy smart meter enabled Agile time-of-use tariffs were offered energy prices that saw them paid for every unit of electricity they used.

Using the excess energy generated by the energy network in homes and batteries across the country provides a vital service to our national energy system and avoids energy being wasted.

National Grid ESO's Director of Operations took to social media to personally thank electric vehicle owners with smart meters for using the excess electricity generated through renewable wind power. For the first time since its inception, those customers who had opted for agile tariffs were paid up to a peak of 5p/kWh on Sunday night to use the abundant wind energy, taking pressure off the grid at the same time.

Robert Cheesewright, Director of Corporate Affairs, Smart Energy GB, said:

"This was all made possible through smart meters. As we build a smarter energy system that is truly responsive to supply and demand it will become common for consumers to be rewarded for helping out our energy system. It is remarkable that electric vehicle owners on such tariffs would have been paid to charge their cars!"

"We are now starting to see the extended benefits that smart meters can bring. Not only do they help consumers avoid wasting energy themselves through greater awareness of their consumption, but we can enjoy lower energy prices."

Duncan Burt, Director of Operations at National Grid Electricity System Operator, said:

"We're really excited to see this weekend's example of a smart electricity system in action.

"The high levels of wind generation, something we will see more of as we move towards our 2025 ambition of being able to operate the British electricity system carbon free, requires increased flexibility to balance the grid.

"Initiatives such as Octopus encouraging increasing demand when there's spare renewable output, help us make the most of the green energy and run the electricity system as efficiently as possible - keeping costs down for consumers too.

"As more renewable sources of power come online we're looking to encourage more intelligent energy use and technology. Whilst small in scale, initiatives such as this are really exciting offering customers consumers and business financial incentives, helping them to reduce their carbon footprint and playing in helping the UK to transition to a low carbon energy system."

Greg Jackson, CEO of Octopus Energy said:

"A green electron should be a cheap electron. We need a system that delivers this, and we saw glimpses of this system this weekend, where some of our customers made money for using energy when the wind was giving us more than enough.

"At Octopus we are increasingly seeing those on our agile smart meter tariff tweak their daily routines to push their usage into these cheap, off-peak and renewable-heavy hours. This is one of the times when a large cohort of these customers came together and did something that benefits them, the national grid and the planet. We hope this happens even more as the green energy revolution takes off."


Notes to editors

  1. Yesterday (8 December 2019) was a record for electricity generated by wind power in Great Britain - 16162MW
  2. Representatives from Smart Energy GB, National Grid ESO and Octopus Energy are available for interview.
  3. A selection of consumer responses to the negative pricing are below for information

About smart meters and the rollout

Britain is committed to a cleaner future - one with zero carbon, zero emissions and reduced pollution.

To make this happen, our nation requires a major upgrade to its energy infrastructure, specifically, it requires the creation of a smart energy system. Smart meters, which replace traditional, analogue meters, are the building blocks of a more reliable, clean and affordable energy infrastructure, allowing Great Britain to better manage energy use, transition to mass uptake of electric vehicles and to build a greener economy.

There are already 15.6 million smart meters installed in homes and microbusinesses across Great Britain. Every household in England, Scotland and Wales can now see their energy use in near real time, receive accurate bills and do their bit for the planet, by requesting a smart meter, at no extra cost, from their energy supplier.

About Smart Energy GB

Smart Energy GB is the campaign for a smarter Britain. It's our task to help everyone in Great Britain understand smart meters, the national rollout and how to use their new meters to be cleaner and greener with their energy use. Our national campaign is reaching households and microbusinesses in England, Scotland and Wales. For more information visit our website

Smart Energy GB media contacts

For more information including interview requests, case studies of smart meter users, infographics, photography and video content please contact the Smart Energy GB media team:

Stephen Shawcross: [email protected]; 0203 019 1057 or 07739 659 895